Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 13
With Thanksgiving behind us, each Week 13 game is critical.
While the 9-2 Saints and 10-1 Seahawks are fighting for home-field advantage in the NFC, the 5-6 Jets and 5-6 Dolphins are just trying to survive in the muddled AFC playoff picture.
Who will have the most rushing yards in Week 13? Which huge favorite will be tested? And which playmaker will break through and score a long touchdown?
It's time to find out. Here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 13.
Adrian Peterson Will Rush for 175 Yards
The Bears cannot stop the run.
Chicago has the worst rush defense in the NFL, and just last week allowed 8.9 yards per carry to the St. Louis Rams. Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham looked like Emmitt Smith and Earl Campbell.
This week, the Bears play at Minnesota with its star running back, Adrian Peterson. There's simply no way that will end well for the (former) "Monsters of the Midway."
Peterson is going to crush the Bears defense. If 31-year-old Brandon Jacobs (106 rushing yards with two touchdowns in Week 6) can get it done against Chicago, imagine what Peterson is capable of.
Peterson will go over 175 yards rushing and score at least twice as the Vikings squeak out a win over their division rivals.
Mike Wallace Will Haul in Two Long Touchdown Passes
Teams cannot run on the New York Jets.
Gang Green has allowed 2.9 yards per carry on the season. However, the Jets struggle against the pass because of their secondary.
On Sunday, the 5-6 Dolphins visit MetLife Stadium for a critical game against the 5-6 Jets that could go a long way in determining the sixth and final playoff team in the AFC. If Miami is going to win, it will need to sustain success through the air.
Enter Mike Wallace.
While Wallace has had a disappointing season since inking a huge free-agent deal in the offseason, he got on track last week with five catches for 127 yards and a touchdown against Carolina. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie has taken a step back this season, and he won't be able to match Wallace's speed.
While Rotowire isn't totally buying into Wallace having a big effort against the Jets, I am. Wallace is going to go off.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill will connect with Wallace on two long touchdown passes, making Dolphins fans and Wallace fantasy owners very, very happy.
Nick Foles Will Throw His First Two Interceptions of the Season
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has had a sensational season, tossing 16 touchdown passes against zero interceptions. He's played so well, coach Chip Kelly named him the starter for the remainder of the season.
On Sunday, the bloom will come off the Foles rose, as he has yet to face a defense as good as the Arizona Cardinals'.
Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has done a fabulous job with the unit, which is ranked eighth overall on the season. With playmaking studs like linebacker Daryl Washington, cornerback Patrick Peterson and rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu, the group has significant ball-hawking ability.
Look for the Cardinals to intercept Foles at least twice as the Cardinals win and improve to 8-4.
The Texans Will Be Front-Runners for the No. 1 Pick in the 2014 Draft
The Houston Texans entered the 2013 season with their sights set on raising the Lombardi Trophy. To say things haven't gone according to plan would be like saying the ending of Lost was critically acclaimed.
In fact, at the conclusion of Week 13, the soon-to-be 2-10 Texans will have the pole position for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and the New England Patriots beating the stuffing out of the Texans. Houston will be crushed at home.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, the Jacksonville Jaguars will win their third game of the season (and second in a row) by downing the Browns and Brandon Weeden. The second-year, 30-year-old QB will do just enough to lose the game for Cleveland.
The win will move Jacksonville to 3-9 and ahead of Houston. At the beginning of the season, that seemed like a virtual impossibility.
But for a Texans team that seemingly hit rock bottom weeks ago, at least a high draft pick awaits.
Buccaneers vs. Panthers Will Come Down to the Wire
Football Locks has installed the Carolina Panthers as 7.5-point favorites in their Week 13 tilt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the assumption is that Cam Newton and Co. should win rather comfortably.
That won't happen. The Buccaneers are playing too well, and the game will come down to the final minutes.
Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has been terrific, throwing five touchdowns against only one interception in the team's three-game winning streak. He actually played well in the team's Week 8 loss against Carolina, going 30-of-51 for 275 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
While the Panthers have proven they can deal with prosperity, having beaten a game Dolphins squad in Week 12, the Bucs aren't the pushover they were earlier in the season.
The Broncos Will Beat the Chiefs by Double Digits
Two weeks ago, the Denver Broncos ended the unbeaten run of the Kansas City Chiefs and moved into first place in the AFC West.
On Sunday, the Broncos will make it two wins in three weeks against their rivals with a double-digit victory.
The once-vaunted Chiefs pass rush has amassed only one sack in the last three games and had none in their first meeting with Denver.
With linebacker Justin Houston (and his 11 sacks) set to miss the game with a dislocated elbow and battery-mate Tamba Hali (and his nine sacks) hobbled with a sprained ankle, their assignment will be exponentially more difficult.
Everyone, including Chiefs coach Andy Reid, knows what will happen if the team can't put any heat on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning will eviscerate the Kansas City defense, throwing three touchdown passes as the Broncos win by at least 10 points.
A.J. Green and Keenan Allen Will Each Go over 150 Yards Receiving
Sunday's game between the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals and 5-6 San Diego Chargers is rife with playoff implications, and one that both teams desperately want to secure. Both squads also feature legitimate No. 1 receivers: Cincinnati's A.J. Green and San Diego's Keenan Allen.
San Diego's passing attack is humming, with quarterback Philip Rivers playing at an elite level. With Chargers running back Ryan Mathews banged up with a hamstring injury, the onus will be on Rivers to put points on the board, much as he did in last week's shootout victory in Kansas City.
Rivers can pass effectively on any defense, and that means it'll be up to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to match him throw for throw. As a result, both team's top targets, Green and Allen, will shine.
Green and Allen will both go over 150 yards receiving and score at least one touchdown apiece as the Bengals and Chargers score with ease.
The 49ers Defense Will Suffocate the Rams Offense
Despite losing quarterback Sam Bradford for the season, the Rams offense has actually played well. They have scored 38 and 42 points in back-to-back games, both wins.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, the good times will come to an end on Sunday in San Francisco, as the 49ers will dominate versus quarterback Kellen Clemens and Co.
San Francisco's defense was strong last week in Washington and is in the midst of a tremendous run of play.
We started getting turnovers. We got Aldon (Smith) back. Ahmad (Brooks) is playing really well. We're stopping the run - being physical, tackling, getting off the field on third down. All the things we've always preached, we started to do them. ... We feel like this defense can carry this football team.
The Rams offense, especially running back Zac Stacy and rookie receiver Tavon Austin, have recently impressed, but it won't matter in Week 13. The Rams will be shut down, and the 49ers will win by double digits.
Russell Wilson Will Outplay Drew Brees
Home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs could very well be decided by the result of Monday night's game in Seattle between the Saints and Seahawks.
Even though the Seahawks will be missing cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner, quarterback Russell Wilson will outplay his New Orleans counterpart.
While Drew Brees is a future Hall of Famer, he's a different quarterback on the road than he is in the friendly confines of the Superdome. This season in games played away from New Orleans, his completion percentage drops 11 points (73 to 62), and his quarterback rating falls 33 points (122 to 89).
Conversely, Wilson is dynamite at CenturyLink Field. He hasn't lost a game at home in his career.
Wilson will have a 300-yard passing day and move the Seahawks one step closer to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.